Miss Mend, an action-packed adventure serial in three feature-length episodes, was produced in Russia with the goal of rivaling, and possibly even surpassing, the most entertaining American movies of the 1920s. It features beautiful location photography, impressive stunt scenes; horse, car and boat chases, radio towers, jazz bands and even a spectacular train wreck, interspersed with visual references to German film classics like Nosferatu, Caligari and Dr. Mabuse. The film's heroine, Vivian Mend, is an elegant urban professional who earns her own living and raises a child without the help of any man. But the film, partially set in an imagined America where everything is new and progressive (from technology to social relations and lifestyles) also includes a few more-than-pointed comments on labor relations, racism, excessive wealth, gratuitous violence and even rape. Based upon a 1923 pulp novel allegedly written by an American, "Jim Dollar" (actually the nom-de-plume of a Russian woman, Marietta Shaginian), the film adaptation is directed by Fedor Ozep and Boris Barnet, each at the start of long and distinguished filmmaking careers. Although it responded to an official call for a new art that could win over mass audiences, Miss Mend was condemned by the Soviet press of the time as ideologically lightweight and a prime example of shameless "Western-style" entertainment. It was nonetheless a huge popular success and after more than eighty years, it remains as exhilarating as it is fascinating.
Miss Mend - Soviet Union 1926 - Directed and written by: Boris Barnet, Fedor Ozep, based on a pulp novel by Marietta Shaginian - Cinematography by: Evgeni Alexseev - Music by: Robert Israel - Cast: Natalia Glan, Boris Barnet, Vladimir Fogel, Igor Ilyinsky, Sergei Komarov, Ivan Koval-Samborsky - Produced by: Mezhrabpom-Rus - Premiere: October 1926
A Whirlwind Vision of an Imagined America - USA 2009 - Directed and written by: Maxim Pozdorovkin, Ana Olenina - Music: Early Soviet Jazz from the 1920's and early 1930's - Produced by: David Shepard, Jeffery Masino
The Music Behind Miss Mend: The Invisible Orchestra - USA 2009 - Directed and written by: Bret Hampton - Cast: Robert Israel - Produced by: David Shepard, Jeffery Masino
DVD features (2-disc set)
- Miss Mend (part 1 + 2) (tinted) 1926, 175'
- Chapter selection
- 16page booklet with an essay "Miss Mend and Soviet Americanism" by Ana Olenina and Maxim Pozdorovkin
- Miss Mend (part 3) (tinted) 1926, 75'
- Chapter selection
- A Whirlwind Vision of an Imagined America 2009, 22'
- The Music Behind Miss Mend: The Invisible Orchestra 2009, 13'
Edited by: Flicker Alley
DVD authoring by: Brian Peterson
DVD supervision by: Jeffery Masino, David Shepard